Whoa! Prices Drop by Largest Amount in 56 Years MARTIN CRUTSINGER, AP Economics Writer WASHINGTON - A record plunge in the cost of gasoline pushed consumer prices down by the largest amount in 56 years in November while industrial production posted a solid gain. The new government reports Thursday provided further evidence that the economy is shaking off the blows delivered by a string of devastating hurricanes. The Labor Department reported that its closely watched Consumer Price Index dropped by 0.6 percent last month, the biggest decline since a 0.9 percent fall in July 1949. It reflected a record fall in gasoline prices, which have been retreating since they surged to above $3 per gallon right after Katrina hit. Meanwhile, the Federal Reserve said output at the nation's factories, mines and utilities rose a solid 0.7 percent last month following a 1.3 percent rise in October. Industrial output had plunged by 1.6 percent in September, reflecting widespread shutdowns of oil refineries, chemical plants and other factories along the Gulf Coast.